An online Rest of the West open house will be open until Nov. 13 at http://engage.wsdot.wa.gov/sr520/
WSDOT will close the eastbound lanes on State Route 520 starting 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, in order to shift two general-purpose lanes across Lake Washington to the West Approach Bridge North and make way for a construction area. Eastbound SR 520 will reopen with the new configuration at 5 a.m. Monday, Nov. 11.
The shift will allow for the rebuilding of the existing eastbound lanes to current seismic standards, and is part of the ongoing Montlake Project portion of the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program, which is funded through the Legislature’s $1.64 billion Connecting Washington transportation package approved in 2015.
Crews will be removing old pavement, moving the concrete barrier, and paving and restriping during the Nov. 9-10 closure. Westbound traffic between Montlake Boulevard and the first sentinel on the floating bridge was reduced to two general-purpose lanes during the Oct. 12-13 weekend.
WSDOT spokesperson Steve Peer said the next milestone for the Montlake Project will be the construction of a temporary eastbound on-ramp that will replace one slated for closure at the Washington Park Arboretum. Design-build contractor Graham Contracting proposed creating a new, temporary on-ramp on Lake Washington Boulevard East that connects to the West Approach Bridge North rather than divert more traffic to Montlake Boulevard. Construction crews will use the existing on-ramp to work on the south portion of SR 520. Peer said the new on-ramp is expected to be operational by the end of the year.
The need to clear space on SR 520 is also to begin work on the Montlake Lid. A new pier (Pier 2) will be constructed in the middle of SR 520, between Montlake Boulevard and 24th Avenue. Once that is completed, traffic will be directed along either side, so crews can begin constructing two more columns — one on each side of Pier 2. Girders will then be laid across them to establish the base of the lid, said Omar Jepperson, WSDOT’s 520 deputy program administrator.
The Montlake Lid structure will be in place before Montlake Boulevard is reconfigured as part of the Montlake Project.
WSDOT purchased the Montlake Market and 76 station property from Kemper Freeman for $16 million, and will remove the market at the end of the year to make way for the reconfiguration.
Under the direction of the Legislature, WSDOT is working on finding a market/food service vendor who could operate a small pop-up site on the southwest corner of that property. An online survey has been set up here, and people can weigh in through Nov. 13.
WSDOT took feedback on a number of current and upcoming projects during a Rest of the West open house on Tuesday, Oct. 29.
A second Montlake Bridge
Interim District 4 Seattle City Councilmember Abel Pacheco was unable to garner support for a resolution backing designs for a second bascule bridge across the Montlake Cut during a September Planning and Land Use Committee meeting.
WSDOT is now pumping the brakes on the proposal, which is fully funded, and will spend early 2020 working with community stakeholders to determine if another draw bridge is necessary, Jepperson said.
It’s been seven years since the option, which the city council opposed by a previous resolution, has been explored. Since then light rail has been extended to the University of Washington, the 520 Trail has opened, improvements have been made to Burke Gilman Trail and transit enhancements have been made at the Montlake Triangle, Jepperson said, so it could mean that a second bascule bridge is not the best option.
WSDOT will work on developing a list of alternatives and cost projections with community stakeholders next year, he said, which will then be rated.
Congestion remains an issue across the existing Montlake bridge, which is scheduled for mechanical rehabilitation, grid deck replacement and expansion joint repair in 2021. Jepperson said the historic bridge could not be widened to support more traffic.
“You might be able to do a little bit with the sidewalk, but you can’t do anything with the lanes,” he said.
SR 520/I-5 reversible HOV
WSDOT expects to receive a decision by the City of Seattle regarding a Major Public Project Construction Noise Variance in November, which would allow the state transportation department to work on creating a high-occupancy vehicle connection between SR 520 and Interstate 5 while the express lanes are closed to traffic at night.
WSDOT plans to make the new connector ramp and HOV lane open to buses in 2023, at the same time the Montlake Project is slated for completion. Carpools of three or more occupants will be included once the entire SR 520 project is completed, which is still about nine years out. The I-5 reversible express lanes will be restriped to retain the existing four lanes.
Traffic will be accommodated westbound from SR 520 to the southbound I-5 express lanes during morning peak hours, and then northbound on I-5 to eastbound 520 during evening peak hours.
“The Mercer Street ramp would have a reversible lane control system with swing gates. It would be illuminated with overhead lights and have signage alerting drivers about the status of the ramp,” according to WSDOT documents.
WSDOT has requested a three-year nighttime construction noise variance from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, arguing it will save money and avoid exacerbating existing congestion on 520, I-5 and the Mercer Street corridor. The request is for a 6-decibel increase in nighttime hourly average sound levels.
The transportation department is designing the project, which will go out for bids in 2020.
Montlake Project Information Center
A public information office staffed by Graham representatives at 2209 E. Lake Washington Boulevard has been receiving just 10 weekly visitors on average.
The office was set up to answer questions about the Montlake Project during construction. It is currently staffed noon to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and 8 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The office is also open 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of each month at 2209 E. Lake Washington Boulevard.
Peer said WSDOT will evaluate whether to change the office hours near the end of the year, in order to better meet people’s schedules.